18th Century

  1. Petticoat Tails and Pitcaithly Bannock - This might seem like a double recipe post, but it is more of a ‘two for one’ in that the same ingredients can be presented in different ways, depending on your inclination and the effort you wish to put in. So… Petticoat Tails. Much has already been made of the contortion of ‘petites gatelles’ into […]
  2. Ouse Bridge Cakes - I love coming across a geographically-named recipe. It gives a place and time in which to ground the dish: Grasmere Gingerbread, Cornish Pasties, Chelsea Buns. Almost better yet, is discovering a recipe that is also unknown today, having gone out of fashion or due to some other circumstance. Such is Ouse Bridge Cakes. There’s practically […]
  3. Dairy-Free Cream Dairy-Free Cream - Here is very useful recipe for those looking to avoid dairy products or even to just reduce the amount of fat in their diet. By whisking together some smooth jam and a couple of egg-whites, a deliciously light and frothy ‘cream’ can be created, for use as a finishing touch to trifles, puddings and pastries, […]
  4. Toad In The Hole - Toad In The Hole was a favourite dish of my childhood, and also one of the first dishes I made when I began cookery lessons at school, aged 11. Toad in the Hole is a traditional lunch or supper dish combining sausages and a standard Yorkshire Pudding batter. The earliest mention attributed by the Oxford […]
  5. Twelfth Night Cakes - The biggest party of the festive season used to be the evening of January 5th, the last of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Christmas Day being the first day), at which the Twelfth Night Cake made its appearance. Baked into the cake were a dried bean and dried pea, and when the cake was sliced […]
  6. Chestnut Apple Pie - Lady Grisel Baillie was a Scottish noblewoman who lived in the 17th/18th century. She was married to a Scottish MP, and became known to social historians for the meticulously detailed account books she kept, which  offer a glimpse into the cost of living during that time, including food and drink, servants wages, travel costs and […]
  7. Almacks - Almacks (also Almack’s and Almack) is one of many recipes that have originated from people copying dishes they have enjoyed whilst eating out. Almack’s was a Georgian/Regency London club where the great and the good could socialise during ‘the season’, Pontacks is another such establishment, now equally long gone, whose reputation remains only in the […]
  8. Incomprehensible Pudding Incomprehensible Pudding - When browsing handwritten manuscripts, my eye is always drawn to recipes with unusual titles. Whether it’s someone’s name, or a location, or as in this case, an odd title. To be honest, after reading it, I wasn’t sure why this pudding is incomprehensible. There are only a few ingredients – none of them unusual, and […]
  9. Mini Banyon Toat Pies Banyon Toat Pie - This recipe is bonkers: bonkers name, bonkers method. I’ve spent ages trying to work out what, in the 18th century world of erratic spelling, the name is supposed to be, and drawn a blank¹. I’ve pondered many an hour over the pancake-ception involved in the filling, and been baffled. It’s a true one-off. I’ve never […]
  10. Pickled Onions Pickled Onions - I do love a pickled onion, and not having had any for a while, decided to put to the test some of the old recipes from the Wellcome Insitute Library archives. The methods are a little different from modern recipes and I was curious to see the differences made to the final product, if any. […]
  11. 18thC Chocolate Cakes Chocolate Cakes - Whilst poring over old manuscripts, I love finding really early examples of recipes we would recognise today. And so I was delighted to come across this recipe for chocolate cakes. It appears near the front of a manuscript (MS1799, dated 1700-1775) digitised by the Wellcome Collection, and so, in my opinion, is closer in date […]
  12. Spiced Apple Rice Pudding Spiced Apple Rice Pudding - A new variety of rice arrived in Carolina in the 17th century that was to become incredibly popular for almost 200 years. However, it’s popularity dwindled in the 19th century, first with the abolition of slavery and secondly when the waterlogged lands of the Carolinas proved unsuitable for the heavy harvesting machines developed as part […]
  13. Ratafia Pancakes Ratafia Pancakes - Pancakes have been the traditional pre-Lenten meal for centuries. Pancake Day is preceded by Collop Monday, when the last  of the bacon and ham was fried up for the evening meal, usually with some eggs. The fat in the pan was then retained for frying the pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. There are almost as many […]
  14. Apple Snow Apple Snow - This recipe is more usually served in the late summer and autumn months, but I’ve chosen it now because the weather outside today has carpeted the garden with a thick layer of snow. This is a classic dessert whose provenance stretches back centuries. Although the name ‘Apple Snow’ is the one more usually found in […]
  15. Fasting Day Soup Fasting Day Soup - On my other blog I recently posted my version of the classic Leek and Potato Soup, which is a firm favourite not only because of its deliciousness but also its simplicity to make. I thought it would be nice to complement it here with an equally delicious and equally simple-to-make soup from three centuries ago. […]
  16. Oat Cakes Oat Cakes - I’m using the recipe for these oatcakes as an example of the pitfalls of projecting 21st century understanding onto 17th century recipes. Mention the word ‘oatcakes’ and most people will think of small, crisp biscuits that are enjoyed with cheese, pate and the like. These oatcakes, however, come from an altogether different origin, resembling as […]
  17. 17th century Welsh Cakes Welsh Cakes - I’ve always had a fondness for Wales. The first family holidays were amongst its lush and rolling hills and I became an avid fan of rugby through watching Wales during the glorious days of the mid-1970s. In terms of its food, I’m constantly frustrated by the existence of so few old books from which to […]
  18. Luns Cake Sally Lunn - The Sally Lunn is a traditional, enriched tea bread that hails from the West Country city of Bath. It is a completely separate item to a Bath Bun, which is an enriched dough, traditionally filled with fruit and peel, topped with a smattering of sugar nibs. The Sally Lunn has been likened to a British […]
  19. Hot-Pickled Herring Hot-Pickled Herring - This recipe is something of a contradiction because, despite the name, it is eaten cold. The slow poaching in a lightly flavoured vinegar neutralises the oiliness of the herring to a certain extent, and the herbs and onion make for a fine, delicate flavour. This method is also much quicker than the traditional method of […]
  20. Black Broth Black Broth - I have no idea who Mr Sparks was, but he obviously made an impression on at least one of the many ladies through whose hands one particular manuscript¹ passed, for there are no fewer than nine of his recipes included over the course of ten pages. I have been unable to find any printed cookery […]
  21. Mussel Pottage Mussel Pottage - A pottage is a thickened, substantial cross between a soup and a stew. I was drawn to this recipe by the lazy cook in me that is always looking for a simpler, easier way to achieve tasty food. When this recipe was jotted down three hundred years ago, it would have been quite hard work […]
  22. English Butter Sauce - This is the classic and multi-purpose Butter Sauce much complained-of as being, for many years, the only sauce we British had. It is perfect for spooning over new potatoes as well as a whole range of freshly-cooked vegetables, and can also be adapted to enhance numerous other dishes merely by changing the liquid and selecting […]
  23. Gooseberry Pudding Pies Fruit Pudding Pies - Mary Rooke, 1770 Pudding pies used to be immensely popular in the 18th century, and describe a particular style of dish where a pastry case is filled with a thick, flavoured and sweetened porridge and the two baked together. Obviously, you’re now saying to yourself, ‘Hang on a second, that’s a tart, not a pie’, […]
  24. Gooseberry Raised Pie Gooseberry and Elderflower Raised Pie - Traditional There’s a 200-year-old tradition in Oldbury-on-Severn of making gooseberry pies with a sweetened hot water crust pastry as part of the Whitsun celebrations. Jane Grigson mentions them in several of her writings on English food. Due to the age of the recipe, it was some time before I managed to find a picture of […]
  25. Three lemonades Old-Fashioned Lemonades - I don’t think I’ve done drinks on the blog before, but I’ve got a trio of delicious variations on lemonade, originating in the 17th century manuscript books at the Wellcome Library. They are each wonderfully thirst-quenching and will make for a delicious treat to have in the fridge. Mrs Yorke’s Lemonade – the best that […]
  26. 17thC English French Bread 18thC English French Bread - Bread is a curious topic to go a-hunting in the recipe archives because there are relatively so few recipes. Considering how central it was for such a large part of the population, the proportion of recorded recipes is surprisingly low. The reason for this might be similar to that often cited as being behind Marco […]
  27. Hard Sauce - 100g unsalted butter – softened 150g caster sugar 120ml cream sherry, or any favourite alcohol Whisk the softened butter until extremely light and fluffy. This is easiest with a stand mixer and paddle attachment, but electric mixer is fine. Add the caster sugar and continue whisking until even paler and fluffier. Gradually add the sherry […]
  28. Sugarless Biscuits, 1767 Sugarless Biscuits - I don’t mean to boast (which means I’m going to), but I’m very pleased with this recipe, which I found in a book from 1767 entitled “Primitive cookery; or the kitchen garden display’d”. In the curious attribution style of the day, the frontispiece declares the book “Printed for J.Williams at No. 38, Fleet Street”, which […]
  29. Orange Blossom Tart Orange Blossom Tart - Here’s a wonderfully aromatic and delicious dessert that I have adapted from a recipe that appears in Hannah Glasse’s “The art of cookery, made plain and easy”. It must have been popular, because Hannah gives no fewer than four recipes for Orange Pudding, each slightly different. Copyright infringement back then being rife, it is highly […]
  30. Mincemeat Fat-free Mincemeat - This recipe is adapted from Hannah Glasse’s 1747 recipe for Mince Pies for Lent. Nowadays, we traditionally make mincemeat far in advance of the festive season, so that it can mature in flavour. Both the sugar and the suet act as preservative and so when Christmas rolls around, you’ve got a jar of deliciously spicy […]
  31. Muffins Muffins - Bread muffins are quintessentially and traditionally British and have a very particular appearance – golden brown on their flat tops and bottoms, with a broad band of pale softness around the middle.  Recipes can be found at least as far as the mid 18th century, but there seems to be a lack of anything older. […]